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Monday, April 29, 2013

Between the Raindrops

I still can't believe April is almost through...or by the time I publish this post, totally done!  Also, slightly depressed by the fact that we've either had RAIN, SNOW, or COLD sunny days!  Hope May brings us more signs of spring!  (Or we could just head straight into summer weather!)  As I publish this, we finally had two georgus days!  Makes me so excited for the weather next month.

I'll start out with my most exciting project, although I don't have any pins for it.  I'm just excited because of this new niece I get to cuddle!  Sad she will be so far away from us, but maybe it will get us visiting Belleville more.  So last April we also welcomed a niece and since everyone was convinced it was a boy  (I don't guess as I'm horrible and had the sex of both my babies opposite what they turned out to be) I had made a cute fleecy no-sew tie blanket.  I went with green and cream fleece that said I Love Mommy!  I love Daddy!  I was soo bummed bringing it to the hospital because when I was picking out the fabric (pre-baby) they had the same stuff in the cutest pinks!  Anyways, the blanket got used alot, and it was still super cuddly no matter the colour! 

This time, knowing the sex of the baby and what colors Mommy was doing in the nursery made it irresistible when I saw some flannels in pink and gray while we were shopping in the US.  I have never seen flannel no-sew blankets, but my Mother did raggedy quilts (edges are left out to fray) for M&M and Moose so  I decided to give the flannel a whirl.  So far it looks cute and based on how well my kids flannel quilts have held up, I think it will work even being washed often.  The size was 42inches square with about 11/2-2 inch ties on all sides.  At the last minute I cut out a B and sewed it on with my machine (mostly because it's so much fun to have a good machine and now easily accessible).  Unfortunately the parents are keeping the name a surprise so I could only do the last name initial.  So cozy...I just want to go find a baby to wrap it in!

Back to doing a bit more cooking from Pinterest.  I made these no-bake chocolate peanut butter bars.  They were supposed to be super healthy, but I didn't have any of the actual healthy ingredients so I ended up using normal stuff...veggie oil for coconut oil, regular peanut butter instead of natural, quick cooking pre-packaged breakfast oats, ect.  I also don't like coconut or walnut so they were axed as well.  So if you are like me and try to think minimally about how healthy or unhealthy the food in your cupboard is, leave out some of the sugar in this recipe.  Normal peanut butter has sugar added and these were extremely sweet.  I'm usually a failure at no-bake cookies, because you have to watch so closely how long they are on the stove for...not the case in this recipe and they turned out delicious, even with the extra sweet factor!  Super easy too....took me all of 10 minutes to turn these babies into bars!

The Best No-Bake Bars via Rebekah's Pinterest via I Hear Exercise Will Kill You

For our last winter coffee hour with the girls I made this strawberry cheesecake.  It was a little different than I expected and I think it was mainly due to the cake-like bottom crust.  I pulled it out of the oven thinking it looked done, but the bottom layer was a little gooey.  I couldn't tell if it was over mixed or not cooked properly.  Sometimes as the head cook you are a little harder on your own food than if you were eating someone else's.  I thought the recipe was okay but everyone else loved it.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake via Rebekah's Pinterest via Food Wanderings in Asia

I also made these wrapped meatballs as a side dish for our cheese tortellini one night.  Basically halve a meatball, throw a chunk of mozza cheese beside it, and wrap both in a biscuit or crescent roll.  They were fun to try and I think I would make them again.  My only real complaint is really my own fault.  Store-bought meatballs, while time-saving are just never quite the same as homemade.  That being said, I'm not sure I would ever use homemade meatballs like this, because they are slightly time-consuming to make, cook, and then start with a whole new recipe.  If it takes longer than 30 min to prep a meal (not including cooking), I'm not interested!  M&M and Moose had a fun little surprise tho, when I got them to bite into their bun!

Meatball Stuffed Biscuits via Rebekah's Pinterest via Recipe by Photo via Menu Musings of a Modern American Woman

I think this about covers my picks for Pinterest in April.  Looking forward to May!  Not only am I determined to cuddle that new niece in some warmer weather, I've also started planning a John Deere party for M&M and Moose!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Quick house projects.

Post-party (to welcome the wee niece) blues...or maybe just the lazy woman blues.  It always seems hard to get back to your normal routine when you get used to sitting on the couch, but we are trying our best....even went walking three weekdays in a row!  Anyways, I haven't been cooking alot from Pinterest (hasn't slowed me down in the pinning department tho) so I thought I'd save what I have done for the end of the month.  Which means I was post-less for my mid-month blog post.

Since a lot of you are interested in ye old mansion, I thought I'd show you a few projects that have gotten accomplished around here lately.

When my parents came up for the shower we put dad to work for a day before he made his escape from the country.  His first project was to get the rest of my counter top installed in the bathroom.  I still need to finish with a bit of pain and trim work to cover up how it had to be lifted on the second cupboard, but OH! how I love to have a place to fold and fill up with junk.

How does that happen so quick?!  I've got the sewing machine out of the closet now and decided that the new counter is going to be it's semi-permanent home.  Hopefully it will get me sewing more!  In celebration of finally having a nice long bathroom counter top again, I let M&M pick out a new Beta for her fishbowl.  Not sure how much the little guy likes it tho.  I slammed the door to the washing machine the other day and he shot around the bowl about 3 times before he settled back to his normally calm self.  And when the washing machine starts to shake, rattle, and roll, fishies' water gets a little wavy too.  More like a natural environment I keep hoping, since we aren't usually too good with keeping our fishies around very long!  Notice my little tiny clothes rod on the side I can dry hanging only clothes on now too!

Unfortunately, this project wasn't on the list, but it was bugging Dad just to look at it, so he did a bunch of maneuvering with the refrigerator and finally got it leveled.  The cupboard above it also seemed to be sinking a little in the front so it needed some help too.  Wish I would have gotten him to change the swing on my fridge and freezer doors, but I'm so used to getting tucked in the corner to open them that I completely forgot until I was looking at this picture!

Originally I had asked him to work on some of my missing counter tops (we didn't get all of the granite from the original kitchen), but he came up short with ordering butcherblock.  We did have supplies for one of the odd spots, tho.  Because this cupboard goes from floor to ceiling we only needed a very thin piece of counter top.  Way back in the summer we found these granite tiles at Lowes or Home Depot that matched perfectly.  One cut and a bit of glue and I now have a place to pull my stand mixer out to.

I'll need to do a bit of painting in black to the edges because they have an unfinished look, but I'm just loving how finished it looks compared to the old concept where you could see through to the drawers below!

A quick drill through the existing, but too small hole, in the counter top meant my soap dispenser also got installed!

Here's a project I got to with my mom while she was here.  Took her opinion and finished it up after they were gone.  I saw this idea on Pinterest for windows that were off centered.  This window is only about half the size of my curtains.  This means that about 1/4 of the curtain rod and curtain are actually covering wall to make the window seem centered and larger.  The curtains were ones I had bought on clearance at Sears several years ago and actually hung in the window of our bedroom in the last house too.  The curtain rod was one I got quite cheaply at JoAnn Fabrics on a super clearance deal too.  Until I finally put them up I didn't realize their wasn't actually a rod holder (to attach the rod to the wall).  I found some silver metal hold backs (to hold curtains back, not actually rods), at Canadian Tire and they do the trick just fine.

Another project partly finished is the bottom set of stairs are scraped and sanded and painted.  I did them in the same Chesnut Pony from Benjamin Moore at Canadian Tire that I did the ceilings in downstairs.  They are not a forever finished project, because I have a few nicked spots already and I'd really like barn board treads to give them an old-fashioned look.  For now tho, it is a huge improvement, and at least look semi-clean following a vacuuming!  I still have to finish the three stairs above the landing.  Most days I just tell myself that it reminds me how awful they looked before my project.
Looking forward to getting outside and putting the hubby to work with some landscaping ideas, especially since the inside work doesn't seem to thrill him very much!  If this cold weather would quit maybe our snow would melt and M&M could get her seeds planted.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pops and chevrons! Welcoming a new niece!!

I've been looking forward to this party for some time now. I love all the organizing and planning and shopping that a party entails! When it comes to the actual work....well I try not to procrastinate but it does always seem like there are a million things to do at the last minute! So here's some of the prep I did ahead and then some pictures of the actual doo:

The first step in my party plans is always deciding on a theme. I knew my sister-in-law like chevrons and stripes (from her pin for the baby room), so I found a free printable graphic on the computer and began the invites using a hot pink chevron background with a oval in the middle for the details. Halfway through I decided the theme of the party was going to be popping, because the party is only about three weeks before the due date and those last few weeks it always seems like something's going to pop! I couldn't find a free pregnant belly graphic, so I went with some balloons that I specialized using the Paint program that comes with Microsoft.  I know the back is really small, but it's a cute poem about bringing a book for Mom and Dad to read to baby and signing your name in that instead of a card.  Really brilliant suggestion from the Mommy-to-be! Once they were printed off on cardstock, we were having a party!

At this stage I also booked my cake decorator Manda Cakes. She is often booked way ahead of schedule and never disappoints on whatever crazy possibility I manage to dream up, so I was happy to hear back that she was available! I didn't let her know about the design for at least a month, because I couldn't decide on what to do. I liked these ruffled cakes I'd seen on Pinterest, but I really wanted to get the theme in there, so I was torn. (Yes about a cake that we are usually too stuffed to eat once it hits that time of the party anyways.). I finally decided to go for a pink gradient (darker pink to lighter) side with the "pops" of pink on top. I think I tried to throw a few other things into the design in my original plans, but listened to her expert advice and as always it turned out beautiful (and yummy too)!

I had several projects in mind I wanted to make for the new wee baby. Of course, I didn't get to quite all of them. You can check out my pinterest board here for all the ideas I liked while planning this shower.

I made some of those cute month by month onsies for baby girl to wear when her momma snaps a shot for us of how much she's growing. I say have to admit I only half- accomplished the project because I decided that I would make onsies up to four months and then see what the actual growth was like. M&M for instance was always right on the sizes for each month, but Moose was in 12month onsies at 6mo and then managed to only grow in the legs for the next year.

For this project I used the same free pink chevron template that I found for the invites, added a circle and a month in my word processing program, and printed out four month bubbles onto one page of iron-on transfer paper (use the mirror image setting). I used my cricut (yes i took a picture of the practice circle that turned out perfect so i had a reference when cutting the good copies) to cut the squares down into circles and then ironed the images on to some onsies I had picked up.  I had a bit of trouble with a not very clear graphic the first shot, but found that letting the paper totally cool before ripping off the backing so my images gave them the nice shiny finish. I was worried about the ironing stage and put it off for several weeks, but this step was far less time consuming then the actual design of the image!

I'm terrible with shower games and Pinterest is wonderful for getting new ideas from. We ended up, after many discussions during our long car rides to sudbury for doctors visits, with a game about daddy from here. It was fun as daddy got a little goofy. Q: how many diapers will baby need a day? A. Mommy 10, daddy-1. We also did this Nursery Rhyme game. The Price is Right for baby items from here and an Old Wives Tale game from here. All proved prize winning! I had a cute pin the baby on the pregnant lady game for my kids and their cousins to play, but when the cousins were all sick we decided to skip it.

My second project I finally got inspired to start three days pre-party. I had to get my sewing machine out of the bottom of our catch-all closet and with my no lifting rule I'd kept putting it off. I was really breaking rules that day with moving tubs of clothes and pushing furniture around the house, so I went for broke! The project turned out super cute and I felt a bit stretched by the days end, but it just gave me a good excuse to have to go grocery shopping without the kidlets next day.

So this project was to take a onsie (I used a long sleeve shirt I picked up at Walmart on clearance, but decided after a onsie would have been better because it wouldn't bunch like the shirt might when the wee one wears the outfit) and add a skirt to the bottom to make a sleep sack. I threw a few embellishments on for some details and to cover up some of my less than stellar sewing skills. Here is the inspiration and since its Etsy you can purchase it! I just loved the chevron material she used, but couldn't find any chevrons in Sudbury when I went looking for material (I bought it the same time as my table tent material from here...procrastinate much?!). Thanks to the advice during coffee hour that got me finally going and finishing it!

I love the dollar store for craft and party supplies and with my being stuck so close to home the last month I depended solely on our rather limited shopping there. I got all the plates (pink), cutlery (pink), napkins (pink), cups (clear with pink straws), and tablecloths (yes, pink) to hide my missing countertops that need finishing. I also bought a bunch of tissue paper, light pink, dark pink, and silvery to make paper poms out of. I made them last year for my other sister-in-laws baby shower and so I don't have a link on Pinterest but I'm sure you can find one. The small ones turned out the cutest and I prepped them five days ahead and then managed to keep Moose from using them as baseballs all week. I think M&M has already claimed them for their room.

I also prepped a lot of the food ahead of time so that I wasn't madly baking the day of. I made carmel corn and carmel marshmallows and lemon poppyseed muffins the day before. Although M&M had the day off school, it turned out to be less hectic than I thought and she was a big help. While Moose was sleeping we cleaned and baked, in between our marathon of Little House on Silver Lake. After reading a chapter we'd either go clean or bake something and it kept M&M motivated and me from getting too tired all at once.

Day of left us (my mom arrived from Michigan to help) with some last minute cleaning, a bit of decorating, present wrapping, since I had sent my online shopping to her place to save some shopping fees, and laying out the food.   I used the onsies for a centerpiece decoration on the piano, which was the gathering spot for presents.  You can also see the smaller white tissue poms.

In addition to our POP food (lemon POPpyseed muffins, 3 kinds of POPcorn, and Snap, Crackle, POP marshmellows) we did a simple yogurt bar with granola and several mixes of frozen fruit.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins from Rebekah's Pinterest via Picky Cook.

Marshmellows from Rebekah's Pinterest via Taste of Home.
  This is the drink mix from Rebekah's Pinterest via Delightfully Tacky.  Also the popcorn was cheddar corn, carmel corn, and white chocolate pink popcorn.

And the dessert table with lots of POP candy and some white-chocolate covered rasberries from Costco that are really delicious half frozen!  And this is an up-close of the diaper boquet on the back of the dessert table.

Diaper Boquet from Rebekah's Pinterest via Pearls of Wit.

I didn't snap a picture of the entrance table, but this was sitting on it.  It also had thank-you notes and envelopes so that guests could write their addresses on the envelopes and make it easy for the new Mommy to get those thank-you notes sent sometime within the first year!

With lots of help and ideas from friends and pinterest the party was a success!